The girl who brought my breakfast to the table was young enough to be my daughter, but she called me “my love”. I didn’t mind.
I had clocked that particular endearment as the prerogative of the portly, grey-haired ladies who stand behind breakfast grills and slap on bacon rashers and chunky sausages to feed the real, honest workforce of Britain every day, but I guess language, like common cold, is catching. In any case, it being Christmas and all, I wasn’t averse to some affection in the morning, particularly when served with my coffee. So I smiled at the girl, made a mental note to tip her big (20 pence, at the very least), and surveyed my plate with pleasure.
I was having breakfast with two young women I didn’t know and a dog who was trying to know me intimately. The dog belonged to one of the women, of course, and was named Cyril. It looked like he had taken the women for a walk on the beach. Actually, they were all at the next table, but the seating was arranged such that they might as well have sat at mine.
As Cyril investigated the mysteries of my shoes, I concentrated on my breakfast. I had ordered Eggs Benedict. On granary instead of white (“and no butter”), as, on this particularly morning, I believed in eating healthy. Seeing the Meg Ryanish, When-Harry-Met-Sally way I was ordering, the waiter asked if I wanted the hollandaise sauce on top or on the side.
“On the side,” I said sternly. “Always on the side.”
The poached eggs had fallen off the toast in transit, which made my job easier. Carefully I separated the white, letting the yolks run out, forked it back to where it belonged, and had a healthy bite.
The second bite, I dipped in the sauce. To tell you the truth, I was looking forward to the sauce. It’s my secret shame that despite being a voracious food junkie and living in England for 11 years, I was yet to be introduced to this particular delight. What can I say? It was pure delight.
I went through the rest of my breakfast in record time. With the last drop of the sauce wiped out with the final morsel of my granary toast, leaving only the unhealthy yolk on my plate, I sat back with a sigh that made Cyril jump, and signalled the waitress for my bill and some light affection. Waiting for her, I decided to find out about the sauce that had brought me such exquisite pleasure. So I Googled, and here’s what came up:
“Hollandaise sauce is an emulsion of egg yolk and liquid butter, usually seasoned with lemon juice, salt, and a little white pepper or cayenne pepper.”